Home hero Kajetanowicz leads after Bouffier battle
Written by ERC    Friday, 05 August 2016 20:30   

Kajetan Kajetanowicz leads his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship into the final day after a close battle with Bryan Bouffier through much of Friday’s action on Rally Rzeszow.


Leading after Thursday night’s spectacular street stage in Rzeszow city centre, there was early drama for reigning European Champion Kajetanowicz after Łukasz Habaj slid off into a ditch on the second corner of the morning’s first test. While Habaj was helped back onto the stage, Kajetanowicz found the road blocked and lost 13.2 seconds to Bouffier, who surged into the lead of a rally he has won on four previous occasions – more times than anybody else.

With Kajetanowicz and Bouffier splitting the fastest times over the next two tests, it was Frenchman Bouffier who took a narrow lead into mid-day service. Kajetanowicz then won SS5 to cut the gap further, before his SS2 time was reduced by the stewards by 10s, putting the LOTOS Rally Team driver into the lead in his Ford Fiesta R5 on Pirelli tyres.

In his attempts to respond, renowned asphalt ace Bouffier spun on the next stage and lost 20s, before Kajetanowicz won the day-ending Chmieinik test to extend his lead to 33.1s. I enjoy this rally,” said Kajetanowicz, co-driven by Jarek Baran. “It was a good day for us. I like this fight with Bryan and the others. I’m happy because we are leading, but it’s not easy. Inside the car it’s hot and not easy to keep concentration, but we did it.”

Bouffier, driving a Gemini Clinic Rally Team Citroën DS3 R5 on MICHELIN tyres, said: “It could be worse, but I’m not very happy. I tried to push hard but it’s not enough. It’s not bad but not I’m meeting my target which was to be first. Anything can happen, we’ll try to be better tomorrow.”

Kajetanowicz and Bouffier have been in a class of their own on the overall leaderboard, helped by problems for their expected rivals Habaj – whose SS2 moment cost him over two-and-a-half minutes – and Grzegorz Grzyb, who lost 30s to the leading pair with a puncture at the end of SS3 Lubenia, the longest stage of the rally at 24.44 kilometres.

Grzyb, a two-time winner of Rally Rzeszow and the current Polish series leader, remains in a podium position in his Rufa Sport Fiesta R5, 1m51.8s off the lead. Jakub Brzeziński has had a strong day in fourth place despite reporting a loss of power from his Fiesta R5. He’s only 14.6s behind Grzyb and has 13s in hand over fifth-placed Filip Nivette.

Nivette (ŠKODA Fabia R5) and ERC regular Tomasz Kasperczyk (Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team Fiesta R5) both had spins during the morning but have since shown strong pace and are split by just 6.9s in their fight for fifth. Seventh is Jarosław Kołtun, who started the day in 19th after a time-consuming spin of his own on the Rzeszow street stage.

The ERC2 leader Wojciech Chuchała is eighth ahead of Raul Jeets, pleased with his progress during the day on his less-preferred surface in his Sports Racing Technologies Fabia R5. Since his off, the current Polish champion Habaj has set a series of top-three stage times to recover back into the top 10 in his Rallytechnology-run Fiesta R5.

Antonín Tlusťák spent the morning on the cusp of the top 10 in his Fabia R5, and although he was then delayed by a puncture, he came back to 11th by the end of the day. János Puskádi is 17th on his first ERC appearance since Rally Islas Canarias in his Eurosol Racing Team Fabia R5. Dávid Botka was firmly in the fight for fifth before suffering more mechanical misfortune in his Citroën DS3 R5, failing to start SS6 after complaining of a low battery.

Chuchała’s healthy home lead in ERC2
Wojciech Chuchała is well on his way to making it five ERC2 wins from as many starts in 2016 in his Subaru Poland Rally Team Impreza WRX STI. Returning after skipping a couple of rounds, Chuchała already gained nearly 50s on Thursday evening when rival Tibor Érdi Jr suffered a turbo problem on his Mitsubishi, and he finished Friday almost nine minutes clear in the class after the Hungarian stopped to change a flat tyre on SS7. Chuchała was an amazing fourth overall after the morning’s first stage before slipping back to eighth after struggling to match the pace of the top-class cars.

Gryazin leads Gryc in gry-pping ERC3 fight
There hasn’t been much to split Peugeot 208 R2 duo Nikolay Gryazin and Tomasz Gryc at the head of the ERC3 category, but ERC Junior star Gryazin ended the day with a 17.4-second lead. The 18-year-old claimed the advantage away from experienced local driver Gryc on the first stage of the morning, only for the Rallytechnology-entered Pole to respond on SS3. Sports Racing Technologies ace Gryazin claimed the lead back on the final stage of the morning and then kept hold of it through the afternoon, stretching it with a great time on the final stage of the day. Though he has fallen two minutes off the lead, Hungarian László Német has held third place since SS2 in his Arable Racing 208 R2. Turkey’s Murat Bostanci, the class winner on the Acropolis Rally, closed to within 3.5s at service, but an overshoot into a ditch meant an 18.7s deficit at the end of the day for the Castrol Ford Team Türkiye Fiesta R2T driver. Alex Filip is fifth after his first day competing on asphalt in his Renault Clio R3T.

Saturday is made up of six stages totalling 106.14 kilometres. Korczyna is the first and longest stage of the day, starting at 9h35 and lasting 24.11 kilometres. It is followed by the Wysoka and Zagorzyce tests, with all three repeated in the same order in the afternoon.  

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